By Anna Attaway, Communications & Development Specialist
The Church sets the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on the first of May, indicating that this feast is our gateway to Mary’s month. Why begin a celebration of Our Lady with a celebration of her spouse, and not of the Virgin Mary herself? There were historical reasons for doing so when this feast was instituted in 1955: Pope Pius XII was upholding the dignity of human labor and counteracting the spread of communism by “christening” International Workers Day (also on May 1).
But I believe this feast’s placement in the liturgical year has a deeper significance as well. It underscores the fact that God has permitted his Church (of which the Virgin Mary is both sign and mother) to depend completely on Joseph’s humble labors. Anytime the Virgin Mary had a need, she turned immediately to Joseph. Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, God Incarnate, chose to rely on Joseph, learn from him, and even obey him,
as a little boy would his father! Why wouldn’t I do the same?
This has been a wonderful subject of meditation for me, having joined the staff of the Catholic Foundation of Eastern Montana in the Year of St. Joseph, mere days before the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker!
St. Joseph’s work went largely unnoticed by everyone except Mary and Jesus. His work was even more hidden than that of his Old Testament namesake, Joseph son of Jacob,
who skillfully governed Pharaoh’s household. And yet, the responsory verse closing the Litany of St. Joseph assigns our carpenter the glory of the patriarchs by quoting Genesis 39: He made him lord over his household, and prince over all his possessions.
The more I learn about our work, the clearer it is that St. Joseph is a perfect example and guide for the Foundation. Like him, we are doing the background work of the Church. We do not administer the Sacraments to the faithful, teach in Catholic schools, or directly serve the needy. That is the Church’s work, and we all depend on it. But upon whom can the Church herself depend? It’s clear enough to our donors: Holy Church depends on us!
Thank you for uniting with us, in imitation of St. Joseph, in our hidden work to ensure a thriving future for the Church in Eastern Montana. As St. Teresa of Avila says, “To other saints, the Lord seems to have given grace to help us in some of our necessities. But my experience is that St. Joseph helps us in them all; the Lord wishes to teach us that, as he was himself subject on earth to St. Joseph, so in heaven he now does all that Joseph asks.”
St. Joseph, protector of Holy Church, pray for us!
Anna converted to Catholicism while studying medieval theology at Harvard and has lived in Great Falls since 2018. She loves dogs, books, cooking for large crowds, and Eucharistic adoration. She was happily welcomed to the Foundation’s staff in April 2021.